Power Struggles, 1648-1690,
“The Age of Absolution”
Why do we start modern history at 1648? Why is Westphalia so important? What make this period ‘modern’?
● Typical reason- There is a change in the legitimacy of states, and in the role of religion. ● After the 30 years War, which is considered “the last religious war”.
● Secularization Thesis
○ From this period forward, matters of state, nations, and peoples took precedence over faith and religion
● Nature of states changed
○ Separate kingdoms slowly came together and unified to be more powerful ● New economic models
○ More international trade in the form of mercantilism, which eventually became capitalism
What is Absolutism?
● Not the same as totalitarianism, because every facet of human life isn’t controlled ● French
○ Louis XIV was the model absolutist ruler
○ Absolutism and constitutionalism developed in response to crises of the mid 17th century We also discuss several other topics like When did the atlantic world begin?
■ Questions around the legitimacy of the rulers
○ Absolutism was an attempt at justifying why certain people could rule ■ Divine right, natural law, social contracts
○ Absolutism started in 1648 at the end of the 30 years war
● Economic stagnation do to famine because of how razed the fields were. This meant that there were fewer goods and less to almost no money, putting the country in huge debts to other nations
● Demographic downturn
○ 25-40% of people in the Holy Roman Empire die during the 30 years war due to famine, and disease.
● National Security became more important than religion
○ People started working on grown power (raison d'etat) to protect themselves ● Versailles We also discuss several other topics like What is radiometric dating?
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○ Started being built in 1661, when Louis XIV turned 18. They moved in in 1682. ○ There were 36,000 workers
■ The building required them to divert a river
○ 700 rooms, 1250 fireplaces, 70 staircases
○ 200,000 trees on the grounds, and 50 fountains
○ Housed 15,000 residents
Louis XIV ruled from 1643-1715, longest ruling monarch, and he had power from the age of 5 in 1648.
● France was the model absolutist state
○ Because of the wars, French nobility was impoverished, and Louis saw an opportunity to centralize power and co-opt the authority of nobles by giving them new offices.
○ Louis grants wealthy people nobility for money, which he uses for state structures ■ This new noble court is moved to Versailles
● Women were important
○ Marie Therese, his mom, queen of Austria, ruled France as well until Louis turned 18
○ Francoise de Montespan and Fransciouse de Maintenon were his lovers and advocated for their elevation in the aristocracy
○ Women also played important advisors
● He called himself the “Sun King” Don't forget about the age old question of Where would you expect to find the largest crystals in lava flow?
● Exercise of Absolute Power
○ Revocation of Edict of Nantes(1685)
■ Lead to protestants fleeing France
○ Employment of Intendants, which were essentially tax collectors
○ Suppression of parliaments to control everything
○ Constant warfare
■ War of Devolution, Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, War of the Spanish Secession -- War was used to pay debts
○ Jean-Baptiste Colbert
○ Government intervention in economics to increase national wealth
○ Purpose is to strengthen national growth instead of personal growth
○ Established monopolies and trading companies so French could get direct profits ○ Protectionist tariffs to prevent imports from outweighing exports. Balance of trade was super important.
○ North American expansion to get supplies without having to purchase them Absolutism Across Europe
○ Frederick William (ruled from 1640-1688) and Frederick I (1688-1713) rule Prussia and it becomes the most dominant German speaking power
● AustriaIf you want to learn more check out Behavioral genetics – what do these studies examine?
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○ Leopold and the Counterreformation
■ Fighting reformation, also fighting the Prussians and Ottomans, the Turks, and Polish
○ Alexei (1645-1676) and the creation of serfdom (1649)
■ Centralized power over the masses
○ Stenka Razin
■ In response to constant war and oppression, he raised 7000 men to
challenge Moscow authority, and won land and redistributed it before
being caught and executed
Elite and Popular Culture
● Absolutism is not totalitarianism
● Public theatre and literature emerges
○ Middle/Upper class people get together to gossip and debate.
○ Importance of women
■ Madame Lafayette,
● Early best selling author
Croissants come out of the age of absolutism because when the Turks were defeated in Vienna, the French wanted to make a pastry that had the crescent moon of the Turks, and they did.